Arlington Poet Laureate

From 2016-2018, KATHERINE E. YOUNG served a two-year term as the inaugural Poet Laureate for Arlington, Virginia. The Poet Laureate “serves as an advocate for poetry and the literary arts and works to advance Arlingtonians’ consciousness and appreciation of poetry in its written and spoken forms. The Poet Laureate represents Arlington’s commitment to fostering a creative environment that encourages collaboration, innovation, and community participation.”


I’m honored to accept this position to advocate not just for poetry, but for all the literary arts in Arlington. Literature in general – and poetry in particular – has the power to build bridges, to create community, and to speak to and from the heart – and if there were ever a time when these skills were needed, surely, surely it is now.

— Remarks to the Arlington County Board, July 19, 2016

Swearing In Ceremony for County Board Member Libby Garvey, December 2016. Video here. Photo by Ryan Hudson.

Poet Laureate Duties

Arlington’s Poet Laureate has four specific duties:

  • Write at least two original poems in honor of occasions of special civic significance and present the poems at public readings;
  • Officiate at up to three County special events, as needed, by sharing an original work or presenting others’ words of reflection at civic events;
  • Facilitate two community engagement programs, working with Arlington Public Library and Arlington Cultural Affairs, to engage the public with poetry and the literary arts and bring poetry to a wider audience;
  • Serve as a juror for the annual Moving Words Poetry competition and contribute one poem to be displayed on Arlington’s ART Buses along with the winning poems.

Poet Laureate Poems

Katherine E. Young Induction1

Poems written by Katherine E. Young as Poet Laureate to mark civic occasions:

“Women’s Work” Read Katherine Young’s commentary on how she came to write this poem here.

“Columbia Pike Blues”

“hush: unbutton sunset”

“Hazmat” (in remembrance of September 11, 2001)

With members of the Arlington County (VA) Board and representatives of Cultural Affairs/Arlington Arts and the Arlington County Libraries on July 19, 2016. Photo by Julia Berg.

Arlington’s Poet Laureate in the News

With Wendy Mann 4 4 April 2017

Hear Wendy Mann’s interview with Katherine Young on WERA FM’s “The Story Hour” (April 2017):

Read Kim O’Connell’s Arlington Magazine interview with Katherine Young about her work as Poet Laureate here.

Read Barbara Ruben’s article about Katherine Young and other DC-area laureates in The Beacon here.

See Yolanda Vazquez’s interview with Katherine Young on “Comcast Newsmakers”  (December 2, 2016) here.

The Poetry of World War I Official Poet Laureate Event

Find Katherine Young’s partial bibliography for the poetry of World War I, including poetry about the war translated from many other languages, here: Poets of World War I.

Other Poet Laureate Events, 2016-2018

Representing Arlington in Moscow and Novosibirsk, Russia…

…and at home.

Reading of “Evening Storm, Ballston” at the laureate induction ceremony, Arlington County Board, July 19, 2016

Cancellation of Poet Laureate Program in FY2019

After my term as Laureate officially ended in July of 2018, I was informed that because of budget cuts and the need to direct staff attention to ‘other priorities,’ Arlington’s Poet Laureate position had been eliminated. Funding was also eliminated for the decades-old Pick-A-Poet program that brought poets into the classroom for thousands of Arlington Public Schools students, as well as the Moving Words program that brought poetry to the ART buses. Consequently, Arlington County is now providing NO direct funding to the literary arts in our community. If you feel as strongly as I do about these issues, please contact your elected representatives on the County Board, and please make a point of raising the question of funding specifically for the literary arts during this campaign season….
It has been a great honor and a remarkable pleasure to serve as your Poet Laureate. Thank you to everyone in Arlington who has supported this office and my tenure in it. From the County Board chamber to the Arlington Detention Center to book clubs and memorial services, many of you have told me how much poetry means in your life. Please share a poem with someone today — and let’s work together to keep poetry’s light shining in Arlington.

— Statement from Arlington Poet Laureate Katherine E. Young

*Recent Developments*

After a lobbying campaign led by Robert L. Giron, Holly Karapetkova, Gregory Luce, Katherine Young, and Laura Saul Edwards, with further assistance from Embracing Arlington Arts and many others who wrote, called, or attended public hearings, on April 23, 2019, the Arlington County Board adopted an FY2020 budget that restored funding for all the literary arts programs lost in FY2019, including the Poet Laureate position.


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